About Me — Brooke Ramey Nelson
Hey, there. I’m Brooke Ramey Nelson, a native Texan, former journalist, politico, PR person and high school teacher, who joined Medium in December 2020 to get back to what I’ve always loved to do — wrassling words.
I thought about starting this essay with the traditional greeting of my forebears: “Howdy!”. But I decided, for the better part of valor or something, that I didn’t have to be quite so obvious about my origins. Isn’t the pic above enough?
My lovely partner, Moker, and I have been married going on 42 years and have been together for 45. Obviously, we were babies when we tied the proverbial knot. We met at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, each while studying to be what was colloquially known years ago as “ink-stained wretches”. Actually, I first heard that term from preeminent TV scribe Dan Rather, who did the honors at an awards banquet we attended in the late-’70s.
Speaking of famous folks, I’ve met a bunch, but my connections haven’t seemed to set my career on fire. Among them? Lucille Ball, Andy Warhol, Bush 41 & 43 (the younger known in Texas circles as Dubya), Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward (I used to work for both), and Gilda Radner — although I have to admit that I merely shook Ms. Radner’s hand, and didn’t introduce myself. Our encounter took place at the stage door of the Winter Garden Theatre in NYC. I was there after an evening performance of her fabulous “Gilda Radner — Live from New York” show in 1979, and ended up waiting with all the other “little people” after the show for an autograph.
If it seems like a lot of spectacular things happened to me in the ’70s, when I was just starting out, the answer is a little bit “yes” and a lot bit “no”. I did meet some celebrities while in my 20s, largely because I toiled in the trenches of urban journalism as an Assistant Travel Editor for a large metropolitan daily. I’ve been to six out of the seven continents — never made the trip to Antarctica, although I’ve visited Tierra del Fuego, a chain of islands in joint custody of Argentina and Chile, at the southernmost tip of South America. Don’t ask me why I didn’t journey another 600 miles to complete my complement of continents — it was a long, long time ago, when the world was very young (as my Nana used to say — if you read my stuff, you’ll learn that Nana’s idioms figure greatly in my understanding of the world), and I just can’t pinpoint the circumstances that made the trip prohibitive at the time.
The most important — and still evolving — job I’ve had over the years is as the Mama to two incredible chicas. They keep me young and they keep me thinking on my feet. The oldest is a public defender — she serves as a lawyer to indigent clients who can’t afford legal representation. The youngest is a journalist, photographer and woman of all kinds of creative impulses and accomplishments.
As far as my current employment is concerned, I work hard now at being retired. And although I spent a good hunk of my career writing, editing, and serving as a “spokesperson” for various and sundry politicians and causes, the best, most fulfilling job I was ever paid to do — for which I received the least compensation, of course — was when I taught high school. Twenty-three years in Room 215 as a publications — newspaper and yearbook — adviser, and as an AP English Language teacher (the kids called my class AP Nelson), attempting to get teenagers hooked on reading and understanding such non-fiction classics as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Great Gatsby and In Cold Blood. I’m proud to say that I was moderately successful. Pro tip: If you ever need to discover the meaning of life, settle down among a group of high-schoolers for a good long while. They’ll set you straight in no time.
I found Medium last fall. One of my daughters follows her passions as a food blogger on the side — and she suggested the platform. Although I had to push myself into getting back in the saddle again, I’ve been riding this path since December 2020, and have written a host of essays with a variety of focuses — everything from Death by Costco, to moving during a pandemic, to grading tens of thousands of student essays, to the desecration of our Nation’s Backyard on January 6. The past month or so I’ve made a concerted effort to open up my work to topics beyond politics — although I have to say that as a political junkie, I’m still in that game. We lived in the D.C. area for close to 40 years, so it’s a difficult habit to break.
Fun fact: This “About Me” nugget will be my 99th piece on Medium, if you count my poetry, too. I appreciate the chance to tell the world a thing or two. And as a former high school yearbook adviser, I totally understand the goal of these “About Me Stories”.
For now, I’ve got a routine — no matter where I am or who I’m with, I’m always looking for a way to write about what I see, what I know, what I think, what I experience. I have quite a few opinions, and I’m not shy at all about discussing them with you. My cute lil’ fam of two — Moker and moi — has settled in nicely in our quasi-cottage in the woods in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Yeah, we gave up the D.C. life to be closer to the ones we love.
Writing a lot and reunited. And it feels so good.